Monday, October 29, 2007

Death Valley Double: The Northern Route

Double #13, 197 miles, 9000' of Climbing, 13 hours and 20 minutes

1st Solo Woman Finisher! Woo-hoo!

Moon Units Excited to Start at Furnace Creek: Mile 0

The First Half: Mile 96
It was a very mild day in one of the hottest places on the planet. A lot of people started with arm warmers and it only reached the mid 70s. The overcast sky hid the famous stars of Death Valley that I have yet to see. I was feeling super until the D-train drilled it and left a whole pace-line crossed eyed and shattered in lawn chairs at the Nevada border. Luckily, I have a knack for recovering. We needed someone to set the pace.

Lunch was at Scotty's Castle (Party Pad in the Middle O' Nowhere): Mile 120
We passed a really fluffy coyote on the climb up to lunch. He wasn't concerned about us at all. I had to tip-toe (you can do that on a bike, right?) around a tarantula in the road. I felt a lot better after a turkey sandwich.

Onto Ubehebe Crater (OOO-BEH-HEEE-BEE-- Say it! It's FUN)! Mile 130
It was a quick out and back with bad roads and a little climbing. You feel like you're in a parallel universe. It looks like you are going downhill but you are going 8 miles per hour generating 250 watts. Trippy. It can really mess with your mind. I think our minds aren't built to process the scale of a landscape like this. I felt like a little ant at the beach.

Down the Hill to Stove Pipe Wells: Mile 170
Finally some downhill after all the climbing. Thanks to Adventure Corps, the water bottles were always full and we had a nice little group. I was starting to get a little tired of the concentration required for drafting though.

Hell's Gate: Mile 184
It was about dark when we hit the last climb of the day. 6.5 miles with a couple thousand feet of climbing. So dark and so quiet. I felt like I was going to have a seizure when a ride came up behind us with a flashing front light. I let him pass to get away from it. They should ban those things. It was peaceful after that. Nice pavement and not as freakin' scary as it sounds.

Finish Line: Mile 197
There was a big group cheering our arrival including a group of women who had ridden the century who wanted to talk to me. They asked me why I do these things. My answer was that it teaches you a lot about yourself and I'm a little nuts. This says it better than I could:

"But you, by the grace of an ordeal in the night which stripped you of all that was not intrinsic, you discovered a mysterious creature born of yourself. Great was this creature, and never shall you forget him."

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "Wind, Sand, and Stars"

It was a long but beautiful trip home up Hwy. 395
I got to stop at one of my favorite places, The Whoa Nelly Deli at the mouth of Tioga Pass

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"You can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out … and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbrush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail, you'll see something, maybe."

Edward Abbey

Friday, October 19, 2007

Next Weekend...

It's a strange beautiful place... like God took a scouring pad to the Sierras. You feel like you don't quite belong in Death Valley. What better way to enjoy it than ride your bike through it?

Notice the tiny little rest stop in the background below. Yep, It's Badwater with the disco drag queen RAAM veteran crew (seriously). It's a crazy world folks.

I'm excited, can you tell? Check it out at Adventure Corps.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Not the Perfect Cycling Weekend...

Can I Make a New Year's Resolution in October?
So I'm cruising up the bike trail, spinning like I'm supposed to, all ready to put in 3-4 hours of riding. Doing my share of pulling for a change and what happens? After about and hour and a half, I'm drafting the boyfriend up the bike trail and before I can even tell what happens I go into his back wheel. He magically stays up and has no marks at all. A dog on leash went across a narrow part of the trail and he sat up. I don't know where my mind was or how it happened. I mean, I know the whole part about looking up the trail etc. I was so frustrated. I banged up my right hand and got a pretty good bruise on my left ankle. I trashed my bar tape, screwed up my front shifter a little and bent a spoke on boyfriend's wheel. I don't think I'm a bad cyclist, but sometimes I can be a total airhead. DAngIt!!!! We limp home and Dino spends time getting the bikes back in running shape. It's just not right. I'm grateful that I bounce back after these things but they have happened with more frequency this year. Maybe I need to quiet the mind...

Sunday Went Down the Toilet
So I have a leaky shut off valve thingy on one of my toilets. The saga started about 11:00 in the morning, about an hour after getting out of bed. Again the boyfriend saves the day. I was all prepared to try it myself with him in the background just in case (I didn't want to do it on my own) and he jumps in with his magic touch & mechanical mind. Three trips to the hardware store later, and the leak is much better and the toilet can be used again. It's a good thing, since it's been a thing on the list to get done before going to Death Valley.

The Future
It was 4:30ish and two foot ball games later when we were done. I thought about getting on the bike. My body feels stiff and sore and I don't feel very peppy. I still have that nagging training nazi in my head saying you need to get out there. I'm glad it's there. It's what makes me better. It's easier to dismiss for one day now. I know I have the fitness and ability to rock the Death Valley Double. That's what experience has taught me. Days down the toilet happen. The body is more resilient than we think. There will be a lot of future rockin' cycling weekends.

The independent woman in me wants to be self-sufficient and hates needing help. I can be pretty proud and stubborn, but sometimes you just have to say "Thank You" to the man in your life. One thing for sure, the boyfriend should get a medal, "best all around". How did I get so lucky?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nagging Little Doubts

Those little voices pop up in my head from time to time... I'm not as fast as I think I am... I'll never get my energy back... I'm going to get dropped... blah..blah...blah. Rubbish. The longer I ride the more I see the big picture. It's more like "Get enough sleep, quit hitting the espresso, rest, rest, rest, quit yer whining and ride hard!". At least that's what I needed to tell myself today. Savage. That's all.

P.S. How many of you consider yourselves a "social cyclist"? I am. Can't seem to get quite the same motivation without a wheel to chase. Sigh.. big group rides are ending soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Knoxville Double Century

Double #12, 202 miles, 12,600 feet of climbing

On some level I think that these rides get easier-- at least mentally they are being familiar with the route and all. I learned a lot this year, despite it being the 5th time round at Kx-ville. It was an off day for me this year.

Never take riding conditions for granted. I get sucked into the "Well last year I did it this way and it worked" mentality. I started out the day with arm warmers, a vest and short fingered gloves. It was adequate clothing in Vacaville at 4:30 am. By the time we had made it over Mt. George and into the Napa Valley it was beautiful and 35 degrees. I rotated shoving my hands under my vest riding one handed until the feeling came back in one hand then switched to the next. Hot cocoa saved me at rest stop #1.

A "relaxed social ride" is a relative term.
Amongst the Ultra crowd, Knoxville is known for it's low pressure gathering of ultrafastiebadasses (extraterrestrials) and the best support people. The best of the best of the best and all who are tired after a long season of hammering as fast as possible for 200 miles. Kx-ville doesn't keep track of who finishes first or even record times. BUT, it's still a hard ride and it's still 200 miles. You can't take that for granted climbing Cobb Mountain after 110 miles.

Hard Core Bike Riders are Special People. It's a small world really and all. Tough, crazy and nice. I rode with my former 508 rival and friend E. Coli Kerin and saw Monarch Butterfly. Lee "Fuzzy" Mitchell did the squigley wave back at me. Luckily, I didn't see our arch nemesis Chupacabra who nicked us out back in '05 in the last 2 miles of a 512 mile race. The Quackcyclists put on the best show around. They really know how to take care of every little detail. They are fantastic!

Even if you are having a bad day, you should still be proud of getting out there and finishing. I still had fun even though I didn't finish by 8:00 like last year. Emotionally and mentally, I felt the strongest that I ever have and the company was bar none. It's a grand tradition and I can't wait 'till next year. Plus, how could I miss Lito's Hubcap Ranch in the Pope Valley?

By the Way- The 508 is this weekend!